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Child marriages were common in history. Princess Emilia of Saxony in 1533, at age 16 married George the Pious, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, then aged 48 years.

Child marriage is a formal marriage or informal union entered into by an individual before reaching the age of 18.<ref name="Child Marriage">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=icrwchild>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The legally prescribed marriageable age in some jurisdictions is below 18 years, especially in the case of girls; and even when the age is set at 18 years, many jurisdictions permit earlier marriage with parental consent or in special circumstances, such as teenage pregnancy. In certain countries, even when the legal marriage age is 18, cultural traditions take priority over legislative law.<ref name="Nour child marriage" /> Child marriage affects both boys and girls, though the overwhelming majority of those affected are girls, most of whom are in poor socioeconomic situations.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

Child marriage is related to child betrothal, and it includes civil cohabitation and court approved early marriages after teenage pregnancy.<ref name=cohabitation/><ref name=cohabitteen/> In many cases, only one marriage-partner is a child, usually the female. Causes of child marriages include poverty, bride price, dowry, cultural traditions, laws that allow child marriages, religious and social pressures, regional customs, fear of remaining unmarried, illiteracy, and perceived inability of women to work for money.<ref name=icrwchild/><ref name=africachild/>

Child marriages were common throughout history for a variety of reasons, including poverty, insecurity, as well as for political and financial reasons. Today, child marriage is still fairly widespread in developing countries, such as parts of Africa,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name="unfpa.org">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> South Asia,<ref>Early Marriage, Child Spouses UNICEF, See section on Asia, page 4 (2001)</ref> Southeast Asia,<ref>Southeast Asia's big dilemma: what to do about child marriage? August 20, 2013</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> West Asia,<ref name=pbs2010/><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Latin America,<ref name=pbs2010>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> and Oceania.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The incidence of child marriage has been falling in most parts of the world. The countries with the highest observed rates of child marriages below the age of 18 are Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea and the Central African Republic, with a rate above 60%.<ref name=unicef12a/> Niger, Chad, Bangladesh, Mali and Ethiopia were the countries with child marriage rates greater than 20% below the age of 15, according to 2003-2009 surveys.<ref>Child brides - For poorer, most of the time The Economist (February 28, 2011)</ref><ref>Child Marriage Ford Foundation (2011)</ref>


Child marriage sections
Intro  History  By gender  Causes of child marriage  Child marriage by region  Consequences of child marriage  International initiatives to prevent child marriage  Prevalence data  See also  Notes  References  External links  

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